New laws in Colorado have changed the criminal justice laws in notable ways. These new laws have changed bond hearings, Colorado’s misdemeanor sentencing laws, and sealing of criminal records.

Here, we’ll discuss the ways bond hearings have changed, as well as the new law that allows for a sealing process.

Changes to Bond Hearings

When a person is arrested, handcuffed, and put in jail, their first thought is … how to get out?

Before the new House Bill 21-1280, it wasn’t uncommon for a person to remain detained for a few days before seeing a judge and requesting bond. A bond hearing is when a judge listens to evidence to decide whether a person should be released pending their court case. Usually, the government can detain a person they think will not show up to a future court date or is considered dangerous.

However, a change in Colorado’s current criminal laws now gives speedier timelines for those arrested and awaiting a bond hearing. Slated to begin by April 1, 2022, Colorado must hold a bond hearing within 48 hours. The clock starts ticking once a person is detained at a jail or other holding center.

The new law also requires bond hearings to take place on weekends and holidays. However, the bill allows those hearings to be remote via teleconferencing.

With the change, people must be released from custody within six hours after a bond is set. It also instructs that the released person receive explicit notice of rights regarding bond payment and release procedures.

Until recently, the most common way to post bail was by cash, money order, or a cashier’s check. By January 1, 2022, each judicial district must also create methods to pay bonds online.

Sealing of Arrest Records

The new law creates an automatic process for arrest records when no criminal charges are filed. It also allows for the sealing of eligible drug convictions.

For arrest records on or after January 1, 2022, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) must seal the arrest when no charges have been filed within one year of the arrest. The CBI has up to 60 days to seal the record after the year has passed. However, if there are charges after the sealing took place, the CBI must immediately unseal the record.

For arrests made before January 1, 2022,  the amount of time the CBI has to seal records depends on whether the charges were felony or misdemeanors. For a felony offense, the CBI will seal the arrest records after three years if no charges were filed. The new law categorizes misdemeanors, traffic, petty offenses, and municipal violations under the same category, requiring sealing after 18 months. However, this doesn’t mean that the arrest completely disappears. If charges are ultimately filed, the records will be unsealed.

Drug convictions will also be sealed automatically, but the length of time a person has to wait for that to happen depends on whether the conviction was for a felony or misdemeanor offense. For felonies, the sealing will happen ten years after a conviction. For a misdemeanor or petty offense, the automatic sealing occurs after seven years. Colorado’s court administrator must compile a list by February 1, 2024, to determine who is eligible, and those records must be sealed by July 1, 2024.

Obtaining a Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have questions regarding any of these new laws and how they affect you, the criminal defense lawyers at the Moorhead Law Group can help.  Contact our office at 303-586-6912 or online.